6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A poignant and beautiful symphonic song-cycle,
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This review is from: Shostakovich: Symphony No.14 [Vasily Petrenko/ LPO] [Naxos: 8.573132] (Audio CD)
With the release of the 'Fourteenth Symphony', the penultimate release in the Shostakovich cycle comprising all fifteen symphonies, only the thirteenth is pending to complete the cycle with the brilliant Vasily Petrenko conducting an excellent Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Naxos label delivering an excellent in quality and clarity sound in the recordings. I intuit that the cycle is destined to become a memorable one.
The pensive mood of the symphony is reflected on the brown-yellow color of the disc cover.
The symphony has the particularity in being in effect a symphonic song-cycle, comprising a set of eleven poems on the theme of mortality, and in particular early or unjust death, for two solo singers accompanied by strings and percussion.
The poems were written by major literary figures like Federico Garcia Lorca, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Rainer Maria Rilke who all by tragic coincidence suffered a premature, early death. The songs are sung in Russian translation but in the liner note along with the Russian there is a translation in English of the original French, Spanish, and Russian texts. Also illuminating notes on the distinguished careers of the soloists, Israeli soprano, Gal James, and Russian baritone, Alexandr Vinogradov.
The eleven songs are divided in three movements comprising songs Nos. 1-3, 4-7, and 8-11 and consequently the attribution as 'symphonic song-cycle' is literally correct.
The first part symmetrically comprises a slow introduction followed by a scherzo and sonata-like allegro with slow coda. The second part comprises two relatively slow movements that frame a compact scherzo then brief intermezzo. The third part comprise three subdivisions of progressively lower tempo which is rounded off by a peremptory epilogue.
What truly animates the symphony are the magnificent voices of the two soloists and their exemplary rendition. I listened to both spellbound.
The small orchestra delivers an exquisite quality and clarity of sound while it delivers totally convincingly the varied character and idiom of the music of individual songs.